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How to Write Critical Essays

How to Write Critical Essays

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Published by: dlnew on Jul 06, 2012
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12/28/2012

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Never forget that what you are now writing will have to make
sense to someone else. If that reader is—however indirectly—
your examiner, you will score points not for what you had in
mind but only for what your prose manages to say. Inefficient
prose simply fails to communicate. Unless your style speaks
clearly, no other virtues or skills which you may possess can be
recognized.

Of course all readers need to be motivated. Tutors, too, want
to be interested. They may even hope to be amused. So try also
to inject some vigour into your style. You can raise your
reader’s hopes with a first sentence which is phrased arrestingly.
You can leave behind a good impression with a last sentence
which is phrased memorably. The more of the intervening
sentences which seem well-written and even witty the better.
Alertness to any ambiguities and playfulness which may lurk in
the language of your own prose should anyway help you to
notice and enjoy more of the verbal games that literary texts are
themselves playing.
But an over-ambitiously original style may stumble into
pretentiousness or wander away into mere eccentricity.
Posturing and whimsicality infuriate some tutors, and all resent
word-play where it is irrelevant. Ensure that any imaginative
expression is indeed designed to express rather than merely
impress. If it defines your meaning more precisely or conveys it
more economically, use it. If not, settle for a simpler, more
direct, phrasing. Some tutors may welcome verbal wit as a

96How to write critical essays

bonus. What all insist upon is a style which shows them how
much you know and what you think.

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